Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration

Figge Art Museum 225 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801

Gardening, agriculture, and other forms of land modification have long defined human interaction with the broader natural world. However, these interactions have radically changed over the past two centuries. The impact of large-scale industrialized agriculture, ever-stricter municipal and neighborhood association ordinances regarding yard maintenance, and the increasing urgency of climate change have fundamentally re-shaped how people view their relationship to landscape. Furthermore, already marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by the deleterious effects of pesticide run-off, dwindling water reserves, and climate change-induced environmental disintegration. In particular, these factors, in combination with systematic injustices perpetrated against Native communities, have pushed indigenous gardening practices in the Upper Midwest to the periphery of environmental sustainability initiatives. Rather than seek "sustainable" solutions that further ostracize and abstract indigenous knowledge of human and plant interactions, we must seek a collaborative stance of resistance, resilience, and restoration.

First established by ecologist Phillip S. Lake, the concept of resistance, resilience, and restoration refers to the health of dynamic ecological communities. Lake writes:

“The capacity to weather a disturbance without loss is defined as resistance, whereas resilience is the capacity to recover from a disturbance after incurring losses, which may be considerable...In restoration, interventions are designed and implemented with the aim of strengthening the resilience, that is, the capacity to recover, of degraded systems.”

Can Lake's definition of degraded systems include systems of human interaction, both historical and contemporaneous? After all, inequality rises from systems - social, governmental, and ecological - degraded over time. What does cultural resistance look like? How does resilience form and become visible? Finally, where do the paths to ecological and social restoration cross? Is restoration even possible, or is renewal a better phrase? This exhibition explores both contemporary historical contexts of landscape visualizations.

This exhibition was curated by Vero Rose Smith, Associate Curator of the Legacies for Iowa Collections-Sharing Project, supported by the Matthew Bucksbaum Family.

 Gallery Handout


Sunny Morning

Catherine McCartney

Sunny Morning

, 1920-1934
Oil on canvas, 30 1/2 x 33 1/2 in. (77.47 x 85.09 cm)
University acquisition, 1937.4